While the Meghalaya Cabinet on December 2 decided to re-launch the state lottery, there seems to be a cause of worry for the Shillong Teer operators.
The Meghalaya government decided to revive the state lotteries to generate revenues.
Daily draws of the Meghalaya State Lottery had stopped in 2005.
But, the Shillong Teer (a traditional tribal gambling) operators are worried that re-launch of state lottery may ruin their business.
“This (Shillong Teer) is the oldest form of traditional gambling; we don’t understand why is the government trying to kill us?” Badeng Lyngdoh, a teer counter owner in Shillong said.
Lyngdoh, who runs his Shillong Teer counter at downtown Iewduh, said they have been running the business with a lot of problem with a lot of difficulties.
“And re-introduction of state lottery will be the last nail into the coffin for Shillong Teer,” Lyngdoh said.
Oliver Dkhar, another teer counter owner said Shillong Teer is a century-old traditional game, and the government should come up with suggestions to preserve it.
“Shillong Teer has been playing a key role in promoting the traditional game of archery, and the entire operation of the gambling revolves around the sport,” Dkhar said.
Everyday hundreds of tribal archers, with a quiver full of arrows, take part in the game of hitting a target two times a day.
The game of Shillong Teer is held in two rounds from Monday to Saturday.
“And at the end of the target-hitting archery game, the results of Shillong Teer is declared,” Dkhar said.
The Shillong Teer counter operator said, in the process, they are encouraging the tribal archers to practice every day.
“We have been promoting the game of traditional archery.” Dkhar said.
Both Lyngdoh and Dkhar said re-introduction of Meghalaya State Lottery will kill the business of Shillong Teer.
“We don’t understand why is the government trying to kill the traditional tribal game?” Lyngdoh and Dkhar said in chorus.
Both the Shillong Teer operators believe that once the Meghalaya Lottery is introduced, people will start buying the tickets every day.
“In the process, Shillong Teer business would go down drastically,” they said.
The Meghalaya government plan to introduce both paper and online lottery to enable people from across India to play the game of lottery.
The Meghalaya taxation department is now working out the lottery process.
In 2001, online Meghalaya state lottery was introduced, and an agreement was signed with MS Associates, a firm which belonged to former Lok Sabha member Mani Kumar Subba.
As per the agreement, MS Associates was supposed to pay a guaranteed Rs. 3 crore to the state exchequer in the first year.
The amount was increased to Rs 12 crore in the year 2002, and MS Associates stopped operations in 2005.
MS Associates had failed to pay the balance sum of Rs 35.08 crore (out of Rs 54.08 crore due from 2002 to 2005), as per the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
As per a report, the CAG also criticized the state government for continuing to pay the lottery department staff from the year 2008 to 2016. It caused a loss of another Rs. 5.69 crores to the state’s exchequer.
Since 2005, the state of Meghalaya has not been able to revive the state lottery.
Earlier, the Meghalaya government also explored the possibility of setting up casinos in the state to add more attraction to the growing tourism industry.
“We demand that the government should stop the plans to start lottery and casinos in Meghalaya,” the Shillong Teer operators, said.
The Shillong Teer operators claimed that they also pay tax to the state government, and the government should come up with plans to preserve the traditional gaming tradition.